“Respect your elders.”
The saying hit me like a brick when my son came home from kindergarten one day and told me the older kids had been saying this to him.
Things people say BEFORE having kids. Post continues below.
The issue I have with this is it teaches our children that adults are superior and have the right to be respected no matter what. Some adults do not deserve that right, and we need to help our children tell the difference.
When my son told me this, my response was: “You absolutely do not have to respect your elders. You only need to respect people who show respect to you, adults included.”
We need to help our children pay attention to their instincts and their gut feelings about people. That will go a long way in helping them to stay safe and learn to trust themselves when they feel they are in danger or question the intentions of an adult they don’t feel they can trust.
When my then four-year-old daughter and I were in the chemist, we walked past an elderly man sitting on a chair waiting for his script.
As she was little and he was sitting down, they were at the same head height and he smiled at her and said “hello”. She looked scared, she panicked a little and buried her head into my legs.
I must admit I was a bit embarrassed and I almost did the usual “say hello”, but my instincts kicked in and I realised she didn’t feel comfortable. He was a stranger and she didn’t want to interact with him for whatever reason.
Listen to This Glorious Mess, where hosts Holly Wainwright and Andrew Daddo talk all things parenting in 2020. Post continues below.
I took her hand and we walked outside, I got down to her level and said to her, “Sweetheart you didn’t feel comfortable saying hello to that man did you?” She said, “No Mummy.”